Machine Gun Funk: Buddy Hield Goes Hardcore

You can’t really define funky, you just know it when you see it. I’m not talking about the musty odoriferousness of a Flatbush Avenue dollar van, but that unquantifiable quality of cool, magnetic, hypnotizing brilliance that only a true artist can conjure.

The funk drips from a Pete Rock beat, a Rick James cut or a James Brown drum riff, as it does on a Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins rim-wrecker, a Rod Strickland lay-in off the glass with some cue ball English or a Kenny Anderson boom-bap that leaves defenders weak in the knees.

You simply know it when you see it, and the University of Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, the frontrunner for the National Player of the Year Award, offered up some serious Machine Gun Funk with his performance last night.

With three weeks until the calendar flips to the month of March, last night’s game between No. 24 Texas and No. 3 Oklahoma had the feel of some NCAA Tournament madness. In the first half, Hield only scored six points on 1-of-6 shooting. But he came out blazing with a 21-point, second-half outburst, with 12 of his overall 27 points coming in the games final three minutes.

And as the score knotted at 60 while the clock ticked down, Hield hit a three-pointer from the left wing with 1.3 seconds remaining to give the Sooners the win. 

“Best player in the country,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said after the game. “For most of the game, we did a really good job on him, considering how good a player he is. Down the stretch, he really was aggressive. He got to the foul line, and obviously, hit that big shot.”

Texas started the game with an 11-3 run as their fullcourt defense pressure flustered Oklahoma. Entering the game having won seven of its last eight, the Longhorns boast a defense that could cause some bracket busting in the NCAA Tournament.The Sooners adjusted to the early pressure and came back, though, but Texas closed the first half with an 11-4 run and took a 31-22 lead into the intermission.

Oklahoma, fresh off a shocking 11-point upset loss on Saturday at unranked Kansas State, got what it needed from Hield – who is connecting on an astounding 52% of his three-point attempts for the season – to avoid back-to-back losses as the senior from the Bahamas, who is also an Academic All-American, caught fire. 

Villanova recently received its first ever #1 regular-season ranking in the polls, but college hoops and the race to cut down the nets in this year’s Final Four is as open as ever. If Nova is #1, then where does that leave Hield and the Sooners, who smacked the Wildcats 78-55 earlier this year?  

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